I took a flight for Newfoundland that Wednesday morning and the seatbelt sign illuminated but our view was obscured in the immense fog. I felt that familiar turn over Signal Hill towards the airstrip at St. John's when the ceiling hung low and the rock appeared at almost the same instant that our feet touched the ground. Jennifer met me and we drove down the Trans-Canada and she slid her into neutral to coast down to the firehouse in Holyrood on the way to Betti's wake.
Funerals are unbearably final but wake's breathe light and provide a celebration that is desperately needed. I got to see all the usual family and friendly characters from past visits and the overwhelming presence of the community that spread across the entire bay and over the four wakes dotted by old photos, flowers, laugher and genuine eyes. A remembrance vigil that ended in her best friends singing at the casket and the girls hitting the demo button on the keyboard to play along with pre-programmed classics. Heaven isn't up in the white clouds but it begins when all of you walk in through those doors to share where she awakes. Sara kept it inside with a single band-aid over her heart.
He later told me that the grey clouds broke away for a few minutes as they descended into Avondale. We didn't see that blue sky again until Sunday. We woke up and the entire house started making brunch together with Mom's kitchen radio set to Newfoundland traditional and all the leftovers from the fridge that had been packed by the town's cooked hams and countless salads. The family left for the funeral home and I stayed behind to play with the kids. I transformed from a cat to a dog and then finally to a rabbit who got his paws bitten off as we ran around the lawn and took a drink from the sprinkler.
We drove up to Assumption cemetery and crossed the gate to the overgrown old section that hid headstones among the trees. I put my feet in the water at Black cove and I tried counting to ten.
We returned to find that everyone had decided to take an afternoon nap and we decided to follow. Karen and I went into the front meadow and she layed on a blanket while I stretched out on a chair beside her pointed towards the afternoon sun. I played through 3:03 and as I reached the back end, my nose was tickled by my allergies and realized if I continued to stifle my body, I would stop my breath. Marie was on the hammock behind me trying to sleep and I was facing the sun trying to breathe. I let out a giant sneeze at the end of that very track and woke her. I used the long pauses in between the guitar riffs on "Asynchrony of Lives" to calm down that late afternoon and sealed it as my favorite song of the year. I closed out "Imperfect Diarchies" at the edge of the front meadow looking past the clothes line towards the Blue Hills.
Sitting in the airplane on the tarmac full of rain and fog, I overheard a father asking his daugher one row in front of me what she thought we would see when we took off. I could see his excitement in telling her that once we break through the clouds the sun and her blue sky would be there waiting for us.